'Exhausted but excited' Willis in as list MP for Greens

Dunedin's newest MP, Green Party candidate Scott Willis, was hurriedly packing yesterday before embarking on his new parliamentary career.

Mr Willis, his party’s Taieri candidate, endured a nervous wait on election night for the Greens’ share of party votes to tip over the point where he could suspend his career as an energy analyst and embark on his political career.

In the end, he made it with a little room to spare: the Greens won three electorates and gained 14 MPs in total. Its 10.77% of all party votes meant all candidates down to 13 on their list were elected. Mr Willis was ranked 12th on the list.

"I’m exhausted but excited," he said.

"I’m flying up this afternoon [Sunday] and there is an induction day and a whole week of getting used to it, essentially, going through all the bits and pieces of paper that I need."

The university vote was crucial to Mr Willis being elected — the Otago campus polling booth was a huge source of party votes for the Greens — and he paid tribute to the party’s Dunedin candidate Francisco Hernandez for his work to bring about that result.

"Fran and I both heavily concentrated in the university and campus area, where we knew that we were going to get a big amount of votes, and Fran was there every day. When I was door-knocking there it was obvious that we were going to get a massive student vote."

The Greens often pick up enough special votes to add another MP or two to the party tally, but at 17 on the list Mr Hernandez will likely have to wait for another chance to make it into Parliament.

However, the former Otago University Students Association president did succeed in turning out the vote in what is usually a strong seat for the Greens.

"I’m really happy with the increase in the party vote and that we ran a really strong campaign," Mr Hernandez said.

"Obviously, I would have preferred to be elected but these things happen . . . Scott was a great candidate and exactly the right fit for the sort of semirural seat Taieri is and he did a great job of door-knocking and reaching out to all parties.

"It will be fantastic to see him in Parliament."

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz , Political editor